Juilliard Opera Presents Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" on February 20, 22, and 24, 2019

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019
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3 Performances: Wednesday, February 20, and Friday, February 22, at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 24, at 2pm in Juilliard’s Willson Theater

NEW YORK –– Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts, under the leadership of Artistic Director Brian Zeger, continues its opera season with Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, with additional selections by Purcell. The performances will be directed by Mary Birnbaum and choreographed by Claudia Schreier, and will feature Juilliard singers and the period-instrument ensemble Juilliard415 conducted by Avi Stein. They will take place on Wednesday, February 20, and Friday, February 22, 2019, at 7:30pm, and Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 2pm in Juilliard’s Rosemary and Meredith Willson Theater.

Juilliard will be taking a concert semi-staged version of the opera to Opera Holland Park (London) on Sunday, June 9, 2019, and to Chateau de Versailles (France) on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, 2019.

Henry Purcell based his first opera on the story of Dido, queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the prince of Troy. The opera was first performed in 1689.

The cast, in order of vocal appearance, includes Shakèd Bar (Dido), Mer Wohlgemuth (Belinda), Kady Evanyshyn (Anna), Dominik Belavy (Aeneas), Shereen Pimentel (First Witch), Chance Jonas-O’Toole (First Sailor), Myka Murphy (Sorceress), Olivia Cosio (Second Witch), and Britt Hewitt (Spirit in form of Mercury).

Scenic design is by Grace Laubacher; costume design is by Oana Botez; lighting design is by Anshuman Bhatia.

Extremely limited tickets are available for $30 ($15 for full-time students with a valid ID) at juilliard.edu/calendar.

This performance is part of Juilliard Opera, a program dedicated to the education and training of future generations of singers. Juilliard Opera is supported by the vision and generous lead funding of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture and its chairman, Dr. Haruhisa Handa.

Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts was established in 2010 by the generous support of Ellen and James S. Marcus.

Juilliard’s full-scholarship Historical Performance program was established and endowed in 2009 by the generous support of Bruce and Suzie Kovner.

Meet the Artists

Avi Stein (Conductor)

Avi Stein is a faculty member of Juilliard’s Historical Performance and Vocal Arts departments, teaching continuo, Baroque vocal repertoire, and chamber music. He is the artistic director of the Helicon Foundation and the associate organist-chorus master at Trinity Church Wall Street. He has directed the young artists’ program at the Carmel Bach Festival and conducted a variety of ensembles including the Opera Français de New York, OperaOmnia, the Amherst Festival opera, and a critically acclaimed annual series called the 4x4 Festival. This summer he will direct the International Baroque Academy at Musiktheater Bavaria. Stein studied at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California, and was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse, France.

Mary Birnbaum (Director)

Mary Birnbaum has staged operas in New York, across the U.S., and abroad from Latin America to Taiwan. She is a past nominee for best newcomer at the International Opera Awards. New York credits include Die Zauberflöte, The Rape of Lucretia, Eugene Onegin (Juilliard), The Classical Style (Carnegie Hall, world premiere), and concerts with New York Festival of Song. Her recent work includes Hatuey (Montclair Peak Performances, world premiere), Kept (VA Arts Festival, world premiere), Halka (Bard Music Festival), Giulio Cesare (Boston Baroque), collaborations with New World Symphony, and the Ojai Festival. Her international work includes Otello in Taipei and Elisir in Costa Rica. Birnbaum co-curates a collaborative arts accelerator at the Orchard Project called The Greenhouse. Her upcoming work includes a new production of La Bohème (Santa Fe Opera, 2019) and Rene Orth’s Empty the House (Curtis/Opera Philadelphia).

Claudia Schreier (Choreographer)

Claudia Schreier has been commissioned by Vail Dance Festival, ABT Studio Company, Joffrey Winning Works, New York Choreographic Institute, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Claudia Schreier & Company made its Joyce Theater debut in 2017 and is the subject of the documentary Sixth Position. Schreier has served as artistic associate to Juilliard President Damian Woetzel on projects at the White House, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City Center, Aspen Institute, and the Kennedy Center, including the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors. She is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, Toulmin Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, NEFA National Dance Project Award, Lotos Prize, and Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize and presented a TEDx talk at Columbia University in 2018. She received a BA from Harvard University in 2008.

Shakèd Bar (Dido)

Jerusalem-born mezzo-soprano Shakèd Bar is a master of music student at Juilliard, where she studies with Edith Bers. Among the roles she has performed are Fiordiligi in Festival della Valle d’Itria’s Così fan tutte with Fabio Luisi, Poppea and Nerone in Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea, Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and La Grande Prêtresse and Une Chasseresse in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. This season, she is singing the role of Fillide in Handel’s Aminta e Fillide with William Christie and Juilliard415, the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, and a program of Israeli music at Alice Tully Hall. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. She holds an Alice Tully Scholarship, the Paola Novikova Memorial Scholarship in Voice, and the Dr. and Mrs. Gottfried Karl Duschak Scholarship.

Dominik Belavy (Aeneas)

Baritone Dominik Belavy is a master of music student at Juilliard where he studied with Sanford Sylvan. At Juilliard, he has been in productions of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata and covered roles in Katya Kabanova, Les mamelles de Tirésias and La finta giardiniera. With Juilliard415, he has sung Bach’s B Minor Mass, conducted by Ton Koopman. He recently made his professional debut as Jim Larkens in Michigan Opera Theatre’s production of La fanciulla del West, conducted by Stephen Lord. As a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Belavy has sung Ravel’s Chansons madécasses, Schoenberg’s arrangement of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Junior in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, and premiered works by Alan Smith and Nathan Davis. He holds a Toulmin Foundation Scholarship.

Olivia Cosio (Second Witch)

Mezzo-soprano Olivia Cosio, originally from San Francisco, is a master of music student in Vocal Arts at Juilliard, where she studied with Sanford Sylvan. She was recently a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she performed Susie in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and sang in the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s In America. The previous season, she performed the American premiere of Michael Gordon’s No Anthem at the Bang on a Can 30th anniversary concert at the Brooklyn Museum. Cosio received a bachelor of music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory, where she portrayed Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina, toured with the Oberlin Sinfonietta, and sang in masterclasses for esteemed artists such as Marilyn Horne. She holds the Ben Holt Memorial Scholarship in Voice, the Philo Higley Scholarship, and the Constance Goulandris Scholarship.

Kady Evanyshyn (Anna)

This season, Canadian mezzo-soprano Kady Evanyshyn performs as Anna (Dido and Aeneas) and Mrs. Grose cover (The Turn of the Screw) with Juilliard Opera, Claire (Cold Mountain) with Music Academy of the West, and premieres Stephano Gervasoni’s Drei Grabschriften with Juilliard’s Focus Festival. Recent engagements include Frau Reich (Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor) with Juilliard Opera, La Tasse Chinoise (L’enfant et les sortilèges) with Juilliard Orchestra, Annio (La clemenza di Tito) with Aspen Opera Center, and Berio’s Folk Songs with Jeffrey Milarsky and AXIOM in Alice Tully Hall. She is currently in the second year of her master's degree, studying with Edith Wiens. Evanyshyn earned her bachelor’s degree from Juilliard, where she was granted the John Erskine Prize. She is supported by the Manitoba Arts Council. She holds Lili Jank Memorial and Constance Goulandris scholarships, and an Alice Tully Scholarship.

Britt Hewitt (Spirit)

Britt Hewitt is a soprano and singer/songwriter from Jacksonville, Fla. In 2016, she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, where she performed works of opera, musical theater, jazz, and pop. Hewitt has interned at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and attended the Recording Academy’s Grammy Camp Nashville. Presently, she is at Juilliard in her third year of pursuing a bachelor of music where she studied with Sanford Sylvan. At Juilliard, she has portrayed Mistress Quickly in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and Miles in The Turn of the Screw. She is a Gluck Fellow and the student council vice president. Hewitt is a member of the New York Songwriters Circle and a finalist of the 2018 My NYC Song Teen Songwriting Contest. She holds Madeline Elsemiller and Henrietta Quade scholarships.

Chance Jonas-O’Toole (First Sailor)

Chance Jonas-O’Toole, a Dallas native, is in his first year of the master of music degree program at Juilliard, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. His Juilliard credits include The Turn of the Screw (Prologue), Hippolyte et Aricie (Mercure, Tisiphone), The Burning Fiery Furnace (Nebuchadnezzar) as well as multiple concerts in Alice Tully Hall, including a world premiere conducted by Joel Sachs. He has completed two consecutive summer fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center. He studied with Sanford Sylvan. He holds Mildred H. Kellogg, Arthur B. Barber, and Anna Case Mackay scholarships.

Myka Murphy (Sorceress)

From Roswell, Ga., Myka Murphy is a mezzo-soprano and studies with Cynthia Hoffmann in the master of music degree program in voice at Juilliard. Most recently, she performed Zita in Gianni Schicchi and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Red River Lyric Opera. She made her Juilliard premiere as Maman in L'enfant et les sortilèges; she also performed in a Juilliard and New York Festival of Song concert honoring faculty member John Corigliano and composer William Bolcom. This season she will be making her Jackson Symphony debut as the mezzo-soprano soloist for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She holds the Gail Chamock Scholarship in Voice and an Alice Tully Scholarship.

Shereen Pimentel (First Witch)

Soprano Shereen Pimentel from Teaneck, N.J., is a third-year undergraduate at Juilliard, studying with Edith Wiens, where she is a proud recipient of the Kovner Fellowship. She started performing professionally at the age of 9 when she debuted on Broadway as Young Nala in The Lion King. This season at Juilliard, she has performed in the undergraduate opera production of Orpheus in the Underworld and the Drama Division’s production of Into the Woods, directed by Sarna Lapine. Other school performances include Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. This past summer she was a voice fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where she performed as Barbarina in the production of Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by James Conlon. She won first prize in the 2018 New York Lyric Opera Competition. 

Mer Wohlgemuth (Belinda)

Mer Wohlgemuth, soprano, is from Winter Haven, Fla., and is pursuing her master of music in Vocal Arts at Juilliard, where she studies with Marlena Malas. Most recently, she performed as Tirsi in Handel’s Clori, Tirsi e Fileno in Alice Tully Hall. She has performed as Nerone in The Harrower Summer Workshop Young Artist Program’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and in two different productions of Die Zauberflöte with the Berlin Opera Academy and the Southern Illinois Music Festival as the Zweiter Knaben. She won the encouragement award at the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Upper Midwest Region) and earned her bachelor’s degree in 2018 from Concordia University, Neb. She holds Philo Higley, Leona Gordon Lowin, and Marion L. Dears scholarships.

Grace Laubacher (Scenic Designer)

Grace Laubacher returns to Juilliard after designing La finta giardiniera in 2017 and The Magic Flute in 2016. She is a New York City-based scenic designer. Her upcoming and recent opera credits include La Bohème (Santa Fe Opera, 2019); Empty the House/Riders to the Sea double bill (Curtis Institute, 2019); Enemies, a Love Story (Kentucky Opera); Halka (Bard Music Festival); and Aida (Pacific Symphony). Laubacher was a winner (along with Mary Birnbaum and Anshuman Bhatia) in the 2015 Opera America/Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer showcase, and was named a Young Designer to Watch by Live Design magazine. She holds an MA in performance design from Central Saint Martins in London and a BA in visual and environmental studies from Harvard.

Oana Botez (Costume Designer)

Oana Botez’s New York credits include BAM Next Wave, Lincoln Center, PS122, Soho Rep, the Joyce Theater, BRIC Arts Media, the Classic Stage Company, the Public Theater, and Bard SummerScape. Her regional credits include the Wilma Theater, Montclair Peak Performance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Hartford Stage Company, Shakespeare Theater (DC), Berkeley Rep, ArtsEmerson, Broad Stage, MCA Chicago, ODC (San Francisco), and the Walker Art Center. Her international credits include the Old Vic, Bucharest National Theater, Arad National Theater, Bulandra Theater, Théâtre National de Chaillot, Les Subsistances, Budapest National Theater, Cluj Hungarian National Theater, Bucharest Operetta Theater, International Festival of Contemporary Theater (Adana, Turkey), Le Quartz, La Filature (Mulhousse, France), and Exit Festival /Maison des Arts Creteil (Paris, France).

Anshuman Bhatia (Lighting Designer)

Anshuman Bhatia’s designs for theater, opera and dance have been seen at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Dublin’s Civic Theater, Soho Rep, the Public, the Atlantic, Arena Stage in Washington D.C., Park Avenue Armory, Bard Music Festival, Juilliard, Madison Opera, Classic Stage Company, HERE Arts Center, LoftOpera, Ma-Yi Theater Company,  Keen Company, Pacific Symphony, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Virginia Arts Festival, Rattlestick Theater, The Sheen Center, and Troy’s EMPAC. His upcoming work can be seen at Santa Fe Opera, Opera Columbus, Wallis Annenberg, Seattle Rep. MFA, NYU.

About the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard

One of America’s most prestigious programs for educating singers, Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts offers young artists programs tailored to their talents and needs. From bachelor and master of music degrees to an advanced Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program, Juilliard provides frequent performance opportunities, featuring singers in its own recital halls, on Lincoln Center’s stages, and around New York City. Juilliard Opera has presented numerous premieres of new operas as well as works from the standard repertoire. Juilliard graduates may be heard in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; diverse alumni artists include well-known performers such as Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming, Risë Stevens, Tatiana Troyanos, Simon Estes, and Shirley Verrett. Recent alumni include Isabel Leonard, Susanna Phillips, Paul Appleby, Erin Morley, Sasha Cooke, and Julia Bullock.

About Brian Zeger, Artistic Director

Recognized as one of today’s leading collaborative pianists, Brian Zeger (MM ’81, piano) has performed with many of the world’s greatest singers including Marilyn Horne, Deborah Voigt, Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham, René Pape, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Piotr Beczala, Bryn Terfel, Joyce DiDonato, Denyce Graves, and Adrianne Pieczonka in an extensive concert career that has taken him to the premier concert halls throughout the U.S. and abroad. His latest recording is A Lost World–Schubert Songs and Duets with Susanna Phillips and Shenyang, released by Delos in September. Other recent Delos recordings are All Who Wander, a recital disc with Jamie Barton; Preludios, Spanish songs with Isabel Leonard; Strauss and Wagner lieder with Adrianne Pieczonka; and Dear Theo: Three Song Cycles by Ben Moore with Paul Appleby, Susanna Phillips, and Brett Polegato. In addition to his concert career, he serves as artistic director of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard and recently completed eight years as the executive director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Development Program.

About Juilliard Historical Performance

Juilliard’s full-scholarship Historical Performance program offers comprehensive study and performance of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Established and endowed in 2009 by the generous support of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, the program is open to candidates for the Master of Music, Graduate Diploma, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. A high-profile concert season of opera, orchestral, and chamber music is augmented by a performance-oriented curriculum that fosters an informed understanding of the many issues unique to period-instrument performance at the level of technical excellence and musical integrity for which Juilliard is renowned. The faculty comprises many of the leading performers and scholars in the field. Frequent collaborations with Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts, the integration of modern-instrument majors outside of the Historical Performance program, and national and international tours have introduced new repertoires and increased awareness of historical performance practice at Juilliard and beyond. Alumni of Juilliard Historical Performance are members of many of the leading period-instrument ensembles, including the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Les Arts Florissants, Mercury, and  Tafelmusik, as well as launching such new ensembles as the Sebastians, House of Time, New York Baroque Incorporated, and New Vintage Baroque.

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Program Listing:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 7:30pm

Friday, February 22, 2019, 7:30pm

Sunday, February 24, 2019, 2pm

Juilliard’s Rosemary and Meredith Willson Theater, 155 West 65th Street, NYC


Dido and Aeneas

Composer: Henry Purcell

Libretto: Nahum Tate


Conductor: Avi Stein

Director: Mary Birnbaum

Choreographer: Claudia Schreier

Featuring Juilliard singers and period-instrument ensemble Juilliard415


The Cast (in order of vocal appearance):

Dido: Shakèd Bar

Belinda: Mer Wohlgemuth

Anna: Kady Evanyshyn

Aeneas: Dominik Belavy

First Witch: Shereen Pimentel

First Sailor: Chance Jonas-O’Toole

Sorceress: Myka Murphy

Second Witch: Olivia Cosio

Spirit (in form of Mercury): Britt Hewitt


With additional selections by Henry Purcell:

“If love’s a sweet passion” from The Fairy Queen

“How happy the lover” from King Arthur

“Urge me no more,” Z. 426

“See, even Night herself is here” from The Fairy Queen


Scenic designer:       Grace Laubacher

Costume designer: Oana Botez

Lighting designer:    Anshuman Bhatia


Extremely limited tickets are available for $30 ($15 for full-time students with a valid ID) at juilliard.edu/calendar.

Performance time: approximately 75 minutes, with no intermission.

Juilliard Opera
Juilliard Opera's production of Rameau's "Hippolyte et Aricie" from the 2017-18 season (photo by Richard Termine)